Former Chapel Hill standout playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl

Former Chapel Hill High standout Cam Gill is a reserve linebacker on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

After going undrafted last April, Cam Gill had a choice to make about pursuing an NFL career.

The Douglasville native had two options on the table — either sign with the New York Jets or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gill knew he had very little room for error because NFL teams didn’t have the traditional offseason activities for rookies.

Gill, a former standout at Chapel Hill High, decided to sign a rookie contract with Tampa Bay.

It proved to be the right decision for several reasons.

On Sunday, he will be a part of the Buccaneers quest to win their second Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

Had he signed with the Jets, his season would have been long over with.

“Man, it was like two different seasons between us and the Jets,” Gill said in a phone interview with the Sentinel. “I’m definitely happy with my decision. What, the Jets won like two games. It is crazy how my decision would have had two totally different outcomes.”

Gill is a backup outside linebacker and plays on special teams.

“I’ve learned a lot during my time here,” Gill said. “It is still unreal when you think about it. I never imagined that I would be playing in the Super Bowl my first year in the league.”

The Buccaneers will take on defending the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Tampa Bay is the first NFL team to play in a Super Bowl that they are hosting.

“Every day at practice, we would see them preparing the stadium for the Super Bowl,” Gill said. “It was definitely motivation and a goal to get here.”

After signing future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady during the offseason, the Buccaneers instantly became a favorite to win the NFC South.

Brady will be playing in his seventh Super Bowl during a career mostly spent with the New England Patriots.

Gill is only the second former high school player from the county to play in a Super Bowl.

Five years ago in Super Bowl 50, former Douglas County High standout Mike Tolbert was the starting fullback for the Carolina Panthers.

Ironically, like this years game, Super Bowl 50 was held on Feb. 7.

Gill is hoping for a better outcome for his team than Tolbert experienced in the Panthers 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in California.

“With all due respect to Mike Tolbert, I’m hoping for better outcome,” Gill said. “I’m very excited about the opportunity.”

Gill admits not being big on trash-talking, but a win would give him some bragging rights over his former high school coach.

Chapel Hill coach Justin DeShon is a Kansas City native and a big Chiefs fan.

“Oh, yeah, I would definitely let him know,” Gill kidded.

DeShon said he is pumped about the game and wishing the best for Gill.

“I’m going to turn on the TV and enjoy the game,” DeShon said. “It is a win-win situation for me. I’m pulling for Cam big time.”

DeShon describes Gill as an “overachiever” who has taken control over his destiny.

Not highly recruited out of high school, Gill signed with Wagner College in New York. The program didn’t have a winning season during Gill’s four years there, but he made the best of the situation.

He graduated as a two-time conference Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American the last two seasons.

He is the conference’s all-time sack leader.

“He has overcame some big odds to make it this far,” DeShon said. “He has taken control over every situation that he has been in from high school to college and now in the pros. He made himself bigger. Still today he is still humble and hungry. He is a high character and quality person.”